Helping you become all that you are capable of becoming!



SEA's Program Manual

Section 1: Introduction to the SEA's Program

Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous -
The SEA's Program of Recovery
By James J. Messina, Ph.D.


By: James J. Messina


My Self‑esteem is adrift in the SEA of Life.

When the SEA was rough and the Waves were surging,

I was tossed and battered.


When the SEA was still and surf was flat,

I was anchorless with no direction.


When the SEA was choppy and the waves white capped,

I was insecure and fearful.


When the SEA was stormy, filled with furor and unpredictability,

I was immobilized.


When the SEA was calm, windless, and dead,

I wallowed in my doldrums.


When the beauty of the SEA enticed me,

I entered it freely,

Only to find below the surface

A churning cauldron.


When the SEA was a foaming, raging enemy,

I entered it bravely,

Only to find below the surface,

Its beauty and charm.


When I needed nurturance and sustenance,

The SEA provided the tools for survival.


When I needed challenge and motivation,

The SEA became my source of goals and dreams.


When I was uneasy and restless,

The SEA provided peace and calm on its shores.


When I was feeling low and depressed,

The Sea buoyed me by its strength and magnitude.


The SEA has an ever changing face and persona.

It moves me in a million directions.


My Self-Esteem is open to change,

And only though

My taking control in the SEA of life

Will I grow to be strong and healthy.

An Introduction to and Organization of the SEA's Program


The SEA's Program Background

The Self–Esteem Seekers Anonymous (SEA's) is a program of recovery for any person suffering from low self–esteem. Low self–esteem can have its roots in a dysfunctional family of origin, in an unhealthy codependent relationship, in personal failure or in a disastrous relationship. The twelve–step SEA's program is based on the philosophy of AA and Co–Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) but differs in that it is led and sponsored by a trained mental health professional. The SEA's program can be conducted in an outpatient or inpatient setting. Its membership is limited to active or follow–up clients of the specific mental health professional sponsor.


People with low self–esteem suffer from self–destructive behaviors, self–defeating patterns, irrational thinking, and trouble in developing and maintaining healthy and fulfilling relationships.


The SEA's program offers a support program of sharing and spiritual renewal to people who have lost focus of their purpose and direction in life. It is a structured group psychotherapy modality which extends the healing powers of self–growth from the traditional, time–limited individual psychotherapy model.


The SEA's program is not allied with any sect, denomination, or political organization. The members of the SEA's program do not engage in any controversy nor endorse or oppose any causes.


The SEA's program not only relies upon the wisdom and knowledge of the twelve steps of other anonymous groups but also utilizes the self–help books known as Tools–for–Coping Series written by James J. Messina, Ph.D. The toolchest of the SEA's program includes his series of books:

The SEA's Program Manual

Laying the Foundation

Tools for Handling Loss

Tools for Personal Growth

Tools for Relationships

Tools for Communications

Tools for Anger Work–Out

Tools for Handling Control Issues

Growing Down: Tools for Healing the Inner Child

Tools for a Balanced Lifestyle: A Manual for a Guilt Free System of Healthy Living


A personal journal — a notebook or audio tape file in which daily reactions, feelings, and insights are recorded. It is also used to record the steps in the SEA's program.


The following are additional books for specific SEA's participants, namely couples in committed relationships:

Marriage Work–Out Team Building Workshop Manual

Marriage Work–Out Marital Enrichment Workbook


The SEA's program has been in the process of development since the spring of 1985. The materials of the Tools–for–Coping Series have been field tested in a weekly support program in Tampa. Since the addition of the Twelve–step Model to this support program, the clients have gained a realistic outline for personal healing and recovery.


Why the name "SEA's Program?'' The name SEA's comes from the first initials of Self–Esteem Seekers Anonymous with the "S'' in seekers at the end because seekers with low self–esteem are never sure where they belong.

The Contents of the SEA's Program Manual
This manual contains five distinct sections to help you better understand the theoretical, philosophical, practical, and procedural elements of the SEA's Program.

Section 1: An Introduction to the Self–Esteem Seekers (SEA's)Program
In this section is an Introduction to the SEA's program including materials and outlines how to conduct the 12 SEA's program in you community. This information is for those counselors and agencies who desire to implement the SEA's support program in their settings, this section of tools contains directions on conducting the SEA's meetings, small sharing groups, and buddy system. A list of suggested readings.  This first section also contains the model of healthy adult self–esteem. First, beginning with the Self-esteem Inventory for you to determine the level of your own self-esteem. Secondly the Model for Self-Esteem with the antecedents and behavioral consequences of low self–esteem; second, the necessary elements for recovery from low self–esteem , and finally, the characteristics of healthy self–esteem. Lastly this first section contains the Eclectic Structural Brief Therapy (ESBT) developed by Jim Messina based on the SEA's Program and the Tools for Coping Book Series.


Section 2: The SEA's Tools for Recovery
In this section you are presented with the components of the SEA's recovery program. They include the six SEA's Tools for Recovery: TEA, ALERT, ANGER, CHILD, LET GO, and RELAPSE Also included is a specific outline of the therapeutic strategies incorporated into the SEA's recovery program.


Section 3: The SEA's Tools for a Recovery Lifestyle

This section is offered so that you can better comprehend the value and worth of the twelve steps of the SEA's program. Each step is presented in an outline for you to respond to as progress is made in taking the step. This workbook requires you to respond to the questions honestly, sincerely, and in the spirit of commitment to your recovery. This twelve–step workbook is a tool to help facilitate your recovery process as well as a reference tool to return to over your lifetime of recovery.

The Twelve Steps of Self–Esteem Seekers Anonymous


We admitted that we were powerless over the behavioral consequences of our low self‑esteem; that our lives had become unmanageable.  


We came to believe that our self‑esteem could heal and grow by our cooperating with a power greater than ourselves who is our Higher Power.  


We made a decision to develop a spiritual life in which our wills and lives would be open to the healing graces of our Higher Power.  


We made a searching and fearless inventory of our strengths and achievements as well as of our weaknesses and failures.  


We admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves, and to others the exact nature of our strengths and weaknesses and of our achievements and failures.  


We were entirely ready to assist our Higher Power to affirm our positive and remove our negative behavioral traits.  


We humbly asked our Higher Power to give us the strength to let go of our shortcomings.  


We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all  


We made direct amends to such persons whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or ourselves.  


We continued to take a personal inventory and affirmed our goodness while promptly admitting our wrongs.  


We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power, praying for knowledge of what we are capable of becoming and the power to carry this out.


Having had a spiritual awakening or renewal as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others hurting from low self‑esteem and to practice these principles in our life.

How to Organize and Operate a SEA's Program

SEA's Meeting Format Script


Good evening and welcome to Self‑Esteem Seekers Anonymous. I am ___________________ and I am recovering from low self‑esteem. Would you please help me open this meeting with a moment of silence, followed by the Serenity Prayer:

Serenity Prayer

God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference,



I have asked __________________ (a group member) to read the SEA's Twelve Steps.


I would like to introduce (names of new members). Please stand to identify yourselves so that we may become better acquainted after the meeting

Are there any announcements you would like to share with the group?


The SEA's program is an anonymous program. We ask that you respect the anonymity and confidentiality of each person in this group. We ask that: What you see and hear stays here when you leave.


Tonight I've asked __________________ to be our volunteer to re‑enact a life segment pertinent to our topic of the evening. (A psychodrama, role play, gestalt experience, anger workout, or problem‑solving session is conducted.) (45 ‑60 minutes)


We will now break into small groups, preferably three members per group. Please follow the group sharing outline; please do not interrupt someone else's sharing. Do not make comments about other people's statements. Do not give advice or try to fix anyone. Talk about yourself at the feelings level to gain the most out of this sharing process. (45 ‑60 minutes)


We will close our meeting with a moment of silence and the Serenity Prayer. Please hand in the Weekly Progress Sheet before you leave tonight.


SEA’s Buddies’ Weekly Progress Sheet


Client Name:                                                               Date:


Meeting Topic


How does tonight's topic make me feel?


What step am I currently working on and how am I feeling about my progress?


What obstacle is currently keeping me off track in my recovery process and how do I feel about this?


How am I feeling tonight about myself?


What sensations did I experience as I was being affirmed last week?


What positive affirmation will I use this week to enhance my self‑esteem?


Received by:                                                             Date:


SEA's Small Group Sharing Format


Each person is given three‑to‑five minutes to share feelings on the following outline contained on the SEA's weekly progress sheet which we presented above.

  1. How does tonight's topic make me feel?
  2. What step am I currently working on and how am I feeling about my progress?
  3. What obstacle is currently keeping me off track in my recovery process and how do I feel about this?
  4. How am I feeling about myself tonight?
  5. What sensations did I experience as I was being affirmed last week?
  6. What positive affirmation will I use this week to enhance my self‑esteem?

Once each person has shared on these questions and the group has affirmed each person, then the group is open to discuss how they felt about the evening's process.


Small Group Sharing Behaviors


  • Actively listen to the person sharing.
  • Identify the feelings the person is experiencing and expressing.
  • See if anything the person is saying can open up a closed door or unrealized insight for yourself.
  • Do Not: Judge what the other person is saying. 
  • Do Not: Analyze the content of what is being said. 
  • Do Not: Ask questions about specific factual data or trivia which may get the person off target on feelings. 
  • Do Not: Give advice or suggestions to fix the other person.
  • Listen for patterns in what the person is saying and, in the general discussion section of the group, share such patterns if identified.
  • Keep the message of hope in the sharing by talking only about your personal recovery and how you are applying the SEA's principle in your daily life.
  • Affirm each other for what has been shared. Keep the focus on the positive and highlight the strengths and competencies which are being developed


Small Group Helping Behaviors

In the small group:


  • Give permission to group members to give you feedback if they see you relapsing into old, low self‑esteem behaviors.
  • Give feedback to any group member who is giving advice or trying to fix another person.
  • Keep the group on task to ensure that each member gets to share that evening.
  • Give feedback if a member is into the “head'' or content and not in touch with the feelings or “gut'' response.
  • Give feedback if a member is engaging in self‑pity or any other self‑defeating behaviors in the group.
  • Keep the focus on the feelings by trying to use only reflective and understanding empathic responses to your fellow group members.
  • Share insights gained from books, readings, lectures, movies or plays which pertain to the topic of the evening.
  • Help one another to identify a self‑affirmation to work on during the next week.
  • Use affirmations to reinforce each other’s efforts to stay on track in the recovery process.
  • Keep the group focused on the positive and avoid the contagion of self‑pity or impossibility thinking

Buddies at SEA

What is a Buddy?

In order to assist a person to continue working on personal growth and self‑esteem enhancement, the SEA's program encourages the members to become buddies to one another on their own time.


The roles of a Buddy are:

  • To be an active support person to another SEA's member
  • To listen to the person and reflect back an understanding of the feelings being expressed.
  • To participate in social and recreational activities which are "fun'' and self‑esteem enhancing.
  • To limit discussions on problems to a minimum to ensure that the relationship is not just an analytical, problem‑solving one but rather one which is spirit‑lifting and esteem enhancing.
  • To give feedback to the other when the person is relapsing into old, low self‑esteem patterns.
  • To give feedback when the person is engaging in self‑pity or other self‑defeating behaviors.
  • To not discuss what goes on in the SEA's group with the other person.
  • To never talk about a third person in a discussion with a buddy.
  • To watch out for codependent behaviors developing in the relationship and to take steps to correct this.
  • To not limit self to buddies when breaking up into the SEA's share groups so that a well‑rounded attitude about life is developed.
  • To not develop into self‑limited small cliques of buddies in the SEA program but rather to be open to be a buddy to whoever asks.
  • To seek mediation from the sponsoring counselor if a conflict arises in a relationship with a buddy.
  • To experiment with new, healthier, self‑enhancing behaviors in the buddy relationship.
  • To give permission to a buddy to give honest and open feedback if needed.

Suggested Reading

Al‑Anon Faces Alcoholism. New York: Al‑Anon Family Groups, Inc. 1984.


Alcoholics Anonymous. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1976.


Ackerman, Robert J. Let Go and Grow. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1987.


Ackerman, Robert, J.Children of Alcoholics: A Guidebook for Educators, Therapists, and Parents. Florida:Learning Publications, 1978.


Ackerman, Robert J., editor. Growing in the Shadow: Children of Alcoholics. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1986.


Anthony, Dr. Robert. Total Self Confidence. New York: Berkley, 1979.


Ardell, Donald B. High Level Wellness. New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1977.


Bach, Richard. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. New York: Avon Books, 1970.


Bach, Richard.. Illusions. New York: Dell Publishing, 1977.


Bailey, Covert. Fit or Fat. Houghton‑Mifflin. 1977.


Beattie, Melody. Codependent No More. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.


Beattie, Melody. Beyond Codependency. Minnesota: Hazelden Foundation, 1989.


Black, Claudia. It Will Never Happen To Me! Colorado: M.A.C., 1982.


Black, Claudia. Repeat After Me. Colorado: M.A.C., 1985.


Booth, Father Leo. Spirituality and Recovery. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1985.


Bowden, Julie & Gravitz, Herbert. Genesis: Spirituality in Recovery from Childhood Traumas. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1988.


Bradshaw, John. Bradshaw On: The Family. Florida: Health Communications, 1988.


Brooks, Cathleen. The Secret Everyone Knows. California: The Kroc Foundation, 1981.


Buscaglia, Leo, Ph.D. Living, Loving, Learning. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1982.


Buscaglia, Lea, Ph.D. Love. New York: Fawcett, 1972.


Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Pocket Books, 1936, renewed 1964.


Casey, Karen. If Only I Could Quit: Becoming a Non‑Smoker. Minneapolis: Hazelden Educational Materials.


Cermak, Timmen L., M.D. A Time To Heal The Road to Recovery for Adult Children of Alcoholics. New York: Avon Books, 1988.


Chandler, Mitzi. Gentle Reminders for Co‑Dependents. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1989.


Co‑Dependency An Emerging Issue. Florida: Health Communications, Inc. 1984.


Colgrove, Melba, Ph.D., Bloomfield, Harold, M.D., and McWilliams, Peter. How to Survive the Loss of a Love. New York: Bantam Books, 1976.


Cork, R. Margaret. The Forgotten Children. Canada: Paper Jacks in Association with Addiction Research Foundation, 1969.


Cowan, Dr. Connell & Kinder, Dr. Melvyn. Smart Women/Foolish Choices. New York: Signet, 1985.


Cowan, Dr. Connell & Kinder, Dr. Melvyn. Women Men Love/ Women Men Leave. New York: Signet, 1987.


Dayton, Tian. Drama Games for Therapists and Teachers. New York: Tian Dayton, 1988.


Eden, Cooper. If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow. Calfornia: Green Tiger Press, 1979.


Friday, Nancy. My Mother, My Self. New York: Dell, 1977.


Friends in Recovery. The 12 Steps for Adult Children. California: Recovery Publications, 1987.


Forward, Dr. Susan. Men Who Hate Women ‑The Women Who Love Them. New York: Bantam Books, 1986.


Fromke, DeVern. Life's Ultimate Privilege. Indiana: Sure Foundation, Inc., 1986.


Gendler, J. Ruth. The Book of Qualities. California: Turquoise Mt. Publishers, 1984.


Geringer Woititz, Ed.D., Janet. Adult Children of Alcoholics. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1983.


Geringer, Woitiz, Ed.D., Janet. Struggle for Intimacy. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1985.


Gravitz, Herbert L. & Bowden, Julie D. Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1985.


Hill, Napoleon. Think & Grow Rich. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1960.


Johnson, Spencer, M.D. The Precious Present. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1984.


Kathleen, W. & Jewell, E. With Gentleness, Humor, and Love. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1989.


Keyes, Jr., Ken. A Conscious Person's Guide to Relationships. Oregon: Living Love Publications, 1979.


Krantzler, Mel. Learning to Love Again. New York: Bantam Books, 1977.


Kritsberg, Wayne. The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1985.


Lair, Jacqueline Carey & Lechler, Walther H., M.D. I Exist, I Need, I'm Entitled. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1980.


Larson, Earnie. Stage II Relationships: Love Beyond Addiction. California: Harper & Row, 1987.


Larson, Earnie & Larson Hegarty, Carol. Days of Healing, Days of Joy, Daily Meditations for Adult Children. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.


Lasater, Lane, Ph.D. Recovery from Compulsive Behavior. Florida: Health Communications.


Lerner, Harriet. The Dance of Anger. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.


Lerner, Rokelle. Daily Affirmations for Adult Children of Alcoholics. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1987.


Maltz, Maxwell, M.D. Psychocybernetics. New York: Pocket Books, 1960.


McConnell, Patty. Adult Children of Alcoholics. California:   Harper & Row, 1986.


Middleton‑Moz, Jane & Dwinell, Laurie. After the Tears. Florida: Health Communications, Inc, 1986.


Norwood, Robin. Women Who Love Too Much. New York: Pocket Books, 1985.


Norwood, Robin.. Letters from Women Who Love Too Much. New York: Pocket Books, 1988.


Nouwen, Henri J.M. Creative Ministry. New York: Image Books, 1978.


Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Wounded Healer. New York: Image Books, 1979.


Nouwen, Henri J.M. Reaching Out. New York: Image Books, 1986.


Oliver‑Diaz, Philip and O'Gorman, Patricia. 12 Steps to Self‑Parenting for Adult Children. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1988.


Peale, Norman Vincent. A Guide to Confident Living. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1948.


Peck, M. Scott, M.D. The Road Less Traveled. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.


Peebles, Katherine. A Natural Curiosity. Kentucky: The Learning House, 1988.


Powell, S.J., John. Unconditional Love. Texas: Tabor   Publishing, 1978.


Robe, Lucy Barry. Just So It's Healthy. Minnesota: CompCare Publications.


Saint Exupéry, Antoine de. The Little Prince. Calfornia: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1971.


Satir, Virginia. Conjoint Family Therapy. California: Science and Behavior Books, Inc., 1967.


Satir, Virginia. Making Contact. California: Celestial Arts,   1976.


Satir, Virginia. Peoplemaking. California: Science and Behavior   Books, Inc., 1972.


Schuller, Robert. Discover Your Possibilities. Oregon: Harvest House, 1978.


Schuller, Robert. You Can Become the Person You Want To Be. New York: Jove Books, 1973.


Segal, Dr. Julius. Winning Life's Toughest Battles. New York: Ivy Books, 1986.


Seixas & Youcha. Children of Alcoholism. New York: Crown, 1985.


Sheehy, Gail. Passages. New York: Bantam Books, 1974.


Silverstein, Shel. The Missing Piece. New York: Harper and Row, 1976.


Subby, Robert. Lost in the Shuffle CoDependent Reality. Florida: Health Communications, 1987.


Subby, Robert. Family Rules. Florida: Health Communications, 1987.


Viorst, Judith. Necessary Losses. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987.


Viscott, David, M.D. Risking. New York: Pocket Books, 1977.


Wegscheider‑Cruse, Sharon. Another Chance. California: Science and Behavior Books, Inc., 1981.


Wegscheider‑Cruse, Sharon. Choice‑Making. Florida: Health   Communications, Inc., 1985.


Wegscheider‑Cruse, Sharon. Understanding Me. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1985.


Whitfield, Charles L., M.D. Healing the Child Within. Florida: Health Communications, Inc., 1987.


Wilson‑Schaef, Anne. Co‑Dependence Misunderstood‑Mistreated. California: Harper & Row, 1986.


York, Phyllis; York, David & Wachtel, Ted. Tough Love. New York: Bantam Books, 1982.


York, Phyllis; York, David & Wachtel, Ted. Tough Love Solutions. New York: Bantam Books, 1984.